As most people know, the state of Arizona recently passed a controversial law, SB 1070, that will effectively legalize the racial profiling of immigrants there. SB 1070 has generated significant attention in the media and public discussion about the issue of immigration in general.
However, this law is only part of a broader wave of American nativism that is sweeping the country under the guise of a crackdown on illegal immigration.
Other examples include:
* City ordinances against the renting of property or hiring of undocumented immigrants in states like Nebraska, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
* The denial of public health benefits to undocumented immigrants even in "liberal" states like Massachusetts.
* The rise of ballot initiatives like Washington state's I-1056 that will, among other things, deny social services and driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.
* Proposed legislation in Arizona targeting so-called "anchor babies" that denies birth certificates to children born of undocumented immigrants in the USA.
As I mentioned in my blog, one of the most revealing things about this broader phenomenon is how many Americans support these various immigration laws.
According to a May 2010 Pew Research Center poll, 59% of respondents across the USA supported Arizona's SB 1070 in general, and even higher percentages supported specific provisions of the law like the right of police to stop and interrogate people thought to be illegal immigrants based upon "reasonable suspicion."
What is even more damning about these poll results is the origin of Arizona's SB 1070.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented, SB 1070 was proposed by a state senator, Russell Pearce, who has ties to White supremacists, and was primarily written by a lawyer, Kris Kobach, who works for an organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), with ties to neo-Nazi and White nationalist groups no less.
As SPLC notes,
It’s not surprising to find a group like FAIR behind this repugnant law. FAIR has an extensive track record of racism and bigotry. The group, for example, has accepted $1.2 million from the racist Pioneer Fund, a foundation established to promote the genes of white colonials and fund studies of race, intelligence and genetics. FAIR has employed key staffers who have also joined white supremacist groups; it has board members who write regularly for hate publications; it promotes racist conspiracy theories about Latino immigrants; and it has produced television programming featuring white nationalists.
Yet apparently, many Americans are unperturbed by these political connections.
Despite being affiliated with an organization like FAIR, Kobach is also a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party who is now running for Kansas Secretary of State. And he has been supported by people such as Senator Fred Thompson and Michelle Malkin.
What does it say about America that members of the US political establishment like Russell Pearce and Kris Kobach can be linked to White supremacists and neo-Nazis, and nobody even bats an eyelash?